US Oncology signs merger deal with Oiler Acquisition

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US Oncology Inc. this week signed an agreement to merge with Oiler Acquisition Corp., an affiliate of Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe IX LP, for approximately $1.7 billion.

Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe is an investment partnership, which owns approximately 14.5 percent of US Oncology's common stock.

US Oncology common shareholders would receive $15.05 per share in cash, which represents an 18 percent premium on the company's March 19 closing price of $12.70. The company trades on the Nasdaq exchange under the ticker symbol USON and has a 52-week trading range of $6.60 to $15.22 per share.

If and when the transaction is completed, US Oncology would become a privately held company. US Oncology's top brass - including US Oncology's Chairman and CEO R. Dale Ross -- will continue as employees of the private entity.

US Oncology is based in Houston and provides cancer-related services to a network of affiliated practices of more than 875 affiliated physicians in more than 470 sites -- including 78 integrated cancer centers -- in 32 states.

The merger agreement also allows US Oncology to actively solicit other possible bidders until April 6 and respond to unsolicited inquiries by other persons interested in acquiring the company. If the company received a better offer, US Oncology could terminate its proposed merger with Welsh Carson.